My trip to Des Moines was a total whirlwind. I arrived at 6:30 PM on Sunday night and headed back to Boston at 5:30 PM on Monday evening. I wasn't even there for a full 24 hours, but I got to see and learn a lot in that short amount of time. Let's recap!
On Monday morning, we headed to the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. Meredith produces a number of magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens, Fitness, Ladies Home Journal, More, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Eating Well, Parents, Traditional Home, and many more. Meredith also has a location in New York City.
Once we got settled, a small group of us (anyone who had never visited before) received a quick tour of the Meredith campus.
The tour started with a visit to the “Plantoir,” which was purchased by the Meredith Corporation to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2002. The Plantoir was once displayed in an exhibition at the roof-top garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Our next stop was to see copies of the corporation's very first publications, which included Successful Farming in 1920 and Better Homes & Gardens in 1924.
Check out the first Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook! We were told it was once wrapped in a red plain tablecloth and photographed, and it's been marketed that way every since. You've seen the red plaid cookbook, right? I think almost everyone in America owns a copy!
Our tour then led us to the Executive Board room, which is also known as the “Mad Men room” by some Meredith employees.
Inside was a chair given to E.T. Meredith, the founder of the Meredith Corporation, in Washington, DC while serving as Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson in February 1920. Neat, right?
Then, we headed to the Wood Shop. A wood shop in a magazine office? Oh, yes.
Meredith also publishes a magazine called Wood. I had never heard of it until the tour, but it's one of corporation's most successful publications. It's been profitable since the very beginning and its readership is very enthusiastic. (Did anyone just think of Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec? I couldn't help but think of him during this part of the tour.)
All of the tools, patterns, and furniture featured in the magazine are tested in the Wood Shop.
There were gorgeous pieces of wood furniture all over the Meredith offices.
After seeing the Wood Shop, we headed downstairs to the photo studio, which was a massive space. There were multiple photo shoots going on at once.
That's a pretty shot!
There were props everywhere!
Each magazine has their own cage of props.
All of the recipes featured are first tested in the Test Kitchen and then made again (with all real food - no Elmer's glue for milk) for the photo shoot.
And, finally, our tour took us to the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden, which was in winter mode, but still pretty to see.
I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the warmer months!
Questions of the Day
What's your favorite health/fitness magazine?
What's your favorite food magazine?
What's your favorite fashion/decorating/lifestyle magazine?